for any invidious purposes, it is the only suit I have. I was complimented by Mr. Buckley’s reference to having read my writing. I must confess that I had not, before this evening’s affair became known to me, read much in the National Review, which is a reflection on me. Mit maybe the depth of my dereliction is absolved to some extent in that Mr. Buckley yesterday sent over for the Texas Observer. Well, enough of this by-play. I’m ready for the slaughter, like one of those demonstrators out in the South, and I want to address this question of civil rights too. First to what Mr. Buckley had to say about acts of will, certainly no one in the civil rights movement, nor a partisan of it, would contend that acts of will lead to a terrestrial paradise, but they might lead to improvement on earth, and that is, of course, the true issue. Mr. Buckley seemed to me to substantially say that he is opposed to demonstrations or things which convulse the society on behalf of the effectuation of civil rights. I should say, in apposition to that, that it has been a common observation that society without civil rights in the South cannot adopt an attitude against the convulsion of society by demonstrations, which are legal and lawful on behalf of legal and lawful rights, without being more concerned, in my opinion, about convulsion in daily life. \(I notice that applause is from way back there, Mr. Buckley’s people got Now, I think the civil rights movement, including the demonstrations, are an excellent thing, indeed, the best thing currently happening in the United States in terms of large social movements. Because, in the first place; they are an effective confrontation of evil, it seems to me. They have actually caused Congress to get off make real changes, or at least consider them. Now I think the whole Democratic Party is committed to that kind of a program, and I don’t think it would have been but for the demonstrations. In the second place, it is a good thing for individuals to do. It is a way for people who feel more and more the decline of individuality, a phenomenon both Mr. Buckley and I would join in deploring, gives them a way to do something, to be relevant to real change and improvement in the society. Third, I think it is extremely good and new in American society, in terms of mass movements, that it is a non-violent movement and a movement specifically committed to the proposition of change through non-violent methods, which is, in my opinion, the wave of the future because of the development of nuclear . weapons. And finally, I should say that this method of demonstration may again be needed ; it was needed in the thirties by workers who were exploited and had no fair chance to organize in their own interests. It’s been used by Negroes in the ’60’s and the very late ’50’s, and it may 8 The Texas Observer have to be used again by workers who will be thrown out of any hope for employment by automation, so as a method, it’s fruitful. I think there are two branches of the civil rights movement, and the first one should be thoroughly exhausted before the second one is employed, the first one obviously being negotiation and all the progress that can be made by negotiation, as they have Made considerable in Dallas, for example,is much to be commended and first to be sought. Now as to the right of voting, my professional responsibilities took me to Missis= sippi recently where they were having a mock election, the Negroes were, voting for a candidate who was not on the ballot, casting votes which were not legal, voters were not legal, and they had quite a time of it. People were shot at, run out of town, and thrown in jail, and so forth. Now it seems to me it is the opinion of some of the BUCKLEY: THE CASE, ladies and gentlemen, as regards the Negroes, lends itself, in my judgment, to a certain emotional usage, which sometimes for cynical reasons, sometimes, certainly in Mr. Dugger’s case, for non-cynical reasons, lends itself to easy exploitation. For instance, Mr. Dugger writes regularly for a magazine, or irregularly perhaps, at least for the current issue, called The Correspondent, a magazine published by Harvard professors, the main burden of which is that we must not, irrespective of how deeply we feel for the plight of roughly one billion people whose most unrealizable ambition is to have one half the freedom that is exercised by the average Negro in Mississippi, that we must not convulse situations, that we must not do anything about Budapest, or anything about mainland China, or anything about North Laos, or anything about the eight or nine hundred million people who live on a perpetual diet of slavery. Rather, we must consider that this is one of the unfortunate givens in our situation. And Mr. Dugger tends to align himself with people who feel that for reasons that I know he will eloquently, notwithstanding his unseeming modesty, explain with cogency and wit and passion, so that I rejoice at least in knowing that he isn’t necessarily in favor of convulsive activity, irrespective of the desirability of the goal. He doesn’t want us to give an ultimatum to Castro, for instance, and say, “Get out of Cuba, or the Marines will arrive there within two months,” nor, I hope, would he be willing to _compare the plight of the average Negro in Mississippi with the plight of the average peasant in Cuba, because any such comparison would. of course, be profane, considering. . . . So that we are at least tacitly agreed on following a proposition that the convulsive approach to idealism does not necessarily advised leaders of the movement in Mississippi that they’re not going to get the right to vote in Mississippi without ‘Federal troops. Now, that may not be so, or it may be a question of how long you are prepared to .wait. I emotionally identify myself with tho’k who are not prepared to wait so long. The phenomenon in Alabama is also pretty depressing, because there in the rural areas demonstrations are having no effect. In the counties like Dallas County, where Selma is, demonstrators are put in jail until there are no demonstrators left who have not been to jail and they have run out of people willing to go back to jail, and that’s the end of that. So we are confronted, and I know Mr. Buckley confronts it with us all, it’s not a problem where anyone can assert any kind of moral superiority, but we are confronted in the deep South with a problem which may cause some convulsion within democratic procedures. recommend itself, and I would say, under the circumstances, that one should not lead to any invidious conclusions about conservatives or liberals or the intensity with which they participate in mankind because they are not prepared to take a convulsive approach to relieve the distress of a particular population. I am here to simply say of the conservative that I think I share, I hope I share, examining my conscience, I say under God that I do share, the concern for the Negro and institutionalized sub-status, which has tended to grow out of a series of historical circumstances for which, in my judgment, it is as wrong for us to assume a collective responsibility as it is wrong for the people of Texas to feel that they share a collective responsibility for the assassination of John Kennedy. And I am simply saying, what then ought we to do about it? And I’m saying this, that I distrust very deeply, just as deeply as Mr. Dugger and his associates distrust, a solution prescribed by people who say, let us liberate Cuba day after tomorrow for reasons sufficient or insufficient, those people who say we must have freedom now, freedom as understood, as defined, as schematized on the blackboards of Harvard University. I have read deeply on the subject, perhaps even as deeply as Mr. Dugger, and am much struck, for instance, by what James Baldwin says. James Baldwin, whose voice issues right up out of the center of Negro sorrow, says in his book that in his own judgment the situation in the South is irrelevant in the sense that it cannot possibly improve until the situation in the North improves, and he says that anybody who is so morally blind as to suggest that the situation in the North in respect of the average Negro is substantially better than the situation in the South cannot feel as the Negro can feel that whole series of impositions and slights which make up Convulsion and Violence
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